United Kingdom downplays reports of £400m payment for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release from Iran

03 Mai, 2021, 12:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • FILE- Iran's national flag flutters in the wind as the Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in the background Tehran Iran

Iranian officials told Reuters last month that an interim deal could be a way to gain time for a lasting settlement that involved unfreezing Iranian funds blocked under us sanctions.

But he said the wider context of the forthcoming elections in Iran, which will vote in a successor to President Hassan Rouhani, and the talks in Vienna over the nuclear deal were more significant issues.

The prisoner swap deal with Washington also reportedly involved the unfreezing of $7 billion (€5.8 billion) in Iranian funds. It was unclear if Tehran was expecting to see Iranians freed in the swap, or who they might be. "We continue to call on Iran to release Nazanin immediately so she can return to her family in the United Kingdom".

"Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true", Price said. "We will not stop until we are able to reunite them with their families".

Ron Klain, Joe Biden's chief of staff, told CBS' Face the Nation that "unfortunately, that report is untrue".

Americans had previously sought to oblige Iran to release American spies without giving any benefits to Iran. "We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there's no agreement".

Despite the American denials, there have been signs that a deal on prisoners may be in the works based on Iranian officials' remarks in recent weeks.

Iran is known to hold four Americans in prison, including Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi.

Officials in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The state TV, quoting an unidentified Iranian official, also said British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be released once Britain had paid off a debt on military equipment owed to Tehran.

FILE- Richard Ratcliffe husband of charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe imprisoned in Iran calls for his wife's release outside the Iranian Embassy in London Jan. 16 2017

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said Iran's treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe "amounts to torture" - the strongest language the United Kingdom government has used to date.

According to Metro News UK, the claim quoted an anonymous official, who suggested the British government will provide the money for the woman's return.

The UK Foreign Office said the British government is continuing "to explore options" to resolve the case.

She was convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran's government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups deny.

Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny all charges against her and say she was only visiting relatives in Iran.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe told the Associated Press he was not aware of any swap.

"Iran has always emphasized the comprehensive exchange of prisoners between the two countries", he said, without elaborating.

Asked if she was being held hostage, Mr Raab said it was hard to argue against that characterisation.

The Iranian hostages-for-cash report came amid recent indirect talks in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran over U.S. President Joe Biden's effort to rejoin the 2015 worldwide compact with Tehran to curb Iran's program to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has not held direct negotiations with the USA during the talks, however.

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